Lavender Lemonade: A Cool Change from the Ordinary

 

This past Saturday, I took a big cooler of lavender lemonade to the farmers market for folks to sample. It was a scorcher outside, so the lemonade was a big hit. I suppose everyone has their favorite way of making lemonade, and I've discovered that lavender lemonade is still a bit of a novelty. Since I'm a tad obsessed with lavender, I prefer to use it all the time now when making lemonade. While both the leaves and buds of the lavender plant can be used, my preference is to use lavender buds, and, more specifically, Hidcote lavender buds. This particular lavender produces a pretty, naturally-colored pink beverage. While other varieties of culinary lavender buds can be used, the end result may be a lighter shade of pink. If only the leaves are used, the lavender will not be pink at all. On Saturday, a perceptive taster referred to my lemonade as "lavenade." I've included the recipe, along with a short video demonstrating the "magic" of lavender.

Place 4 cups water and 1/2 cup strained, fresh lemon juice in a pitcher; set aside. Combine 1 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp. hidcote lavender buds, and grated zest of 2 lemons in the bowl of a food processor; cover, and process for 1 minute. Transfer lavender-sugar mixture to a small saucepan, and add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat; strain, and discard solids. Add sugar mixture to pitcher, and stir to combine. Chill thoroughly before serving. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh lavender sprigs, if desired. Enjoy! 

April: Waiting for Lavender

Hello, friends! Spring arrived with a bang, and the view from the barn porch is now splashed with rounded green domes in the lavender field. I witnessed an incredible green-up in just a few short weeks. The first tiny lavender buds appeared, well ahead of schedule thanks to unseasonably warm weather. Then came a late frost this month which nipped the buds. That means those lavenders could be blooming later rather than earlier. So while the only apparent color right now is green, my mind jumps ahead to May and June - we will be seeing purple very soon.

As a lavender grower, I am learning as I go. Out of 7 varieties and 650 plants, all but one (variety) have proven to be winners in our USDA hardiness zone 7. Hidcote, munstead, grosso, provence, and Fred Boutin have fared exceptionally well. Likewise, so has Spanish lavender, which surprised me with blooms at the end of March! The exception is Goodwin Creek - I will not plant this variety again as it is evidently not tough enough for North Carolina. However, the truth about lavender is this - what doesn't work for one grower could work just fine for the next person.  

To ensure that you get the latest lavender news, be sure to join our facebook page. We'll have updates there on bloom time, lavender availability, market dates/locations, and events.